I was pleasantly surprised to see my picture on the front page of the Oct. 7 edition (“Military doctors reshaping medical diplomacy efforts”). I am very proud to have been a part of the event depicted, and I am glad for the opportunity to tell your readers more about it.
The article may imply otherwise, but our effort was very much an example of what Lt. Col. Mark Hubner rightly favors: a cooperative effort by, with and through a sustainable partnership with Iraqi doctors. What the picture does not show is that an Iraqi cardiologist was sitting right behind me all day, and it was to him that I demonstrated the most important measurements. We saw 12 patients he had selected that day, and he got copies of the studies and the summaries. He presented findings to the families.
Working with our partners in civil military operations and nongovernmental organizations, he will refer the candidates to surgical centers.
The Army brigade surgeon, the Army hospital, Iraqi physicians, the provincial director of health, our civil military operations team and the State Department’s Provincial Restoration Team planned this together for more than a month. We not only provided an important step toward saving these 12 children, we also taught our Iraqi colleagues how to help save the hundreds like them with congenital heart disease in this country.
Many of us have been engaged in similar efforts since 2003; we have long understood that sustainable development can be undermined by the types of Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPS) your article describes, and we have done our best to do what Lt. Col. Hubner is advocating. We wish you had reported what we actually achieved, and we hope you will highlight those efforts that, like ours, are planned well to have lasting benefit.
Col. John ScottVictory Base Complex, Iraq